(With the much talked about decision of privatizing the EMS Department, a reader submitted the following comment, containing information about various local departments. Please note, TLS has not verified all the information submitted). There are actually 4 ambulances for the Jackson First Aid Squad, plus a captain’s car. They run from 6P to 5A Sunday through Saturday. Quality Medical runs from 5A to 6P Sunday through Saturday, and staffs a minimum of 3 ambulances in town. Whenever an ambulance is dispatched to a call, another one is sent in to town.
Only twice have I ever seen Lakewood EMS even possibly in Jackson, and on both instances, it was because the call was on the border of Lakewood and Jackson. Never has it been for mutual aid, to my knowledge.
The EMTs on Lakewood EMS have the same training as any paid ‘transportation’ EMT in this state, or even as any volunteer EMT in this state (provided that the volunteer actually went through the EMT course and took the test).
When a company bids in on a contract, they specify exactly how they would intend to run that contract. For example, when Quality bid in on Jackson, they promised 3 ambulances, with a 0 dollar cost to the township itself, accepting insurance company payments as payment in full for Jackson residents, and not pursuing collections beyond a letter in the mail for Jackson residents. They also agreed that volunteer officers could take command of a scene if present on MCIs.
I’m not entirely sure if GEM ambulance is actually putting a bid in for the contract, but if they are, they’re located right out of Lakewood (their office is practically across the street from Kimball), which actually puts them in the right position for such a contract. Their trucks go in and out of there on a daily basis. Putting dedicated trucks in the town for 911, plus having their base of operations in town (meaning ambulances are constantly going in and out of there anyway) makes them an ideal candidate.
I am not saying that the paid guys currently working for Lakewood are incapable of doing their jobs — they do their jobs well. They are also well paid for it.
Your Lakewood EMS guys are most likely making at least $2.00/hr more than your average EMT in the area who works for a private company (private company EMTs, assuming no o/t, at a rate of 13/hr, are making 27,040 before taxes, as compared to the salaried EMTs in Lakewood, who honestly are probably making closer to 50,000 a year) . They also hold far better benefits. Honestly, neither salary is really substantial enough to provide for cost of living in this state, which points to a fact — EMTs in this state aren’t paid nearly enough. They’re the life savers, the ones you call in an emergency to start treatment while you’re going to the ER. They break their backs, take on liability, and put their own lives at risk for others, and get paid next to nothing for doing so. Paramedic salary isn’t much better. Your garbage men make more than an EMT and Medic salary combined. Might be something ya want to keep in mind next time ya call an ambulance, and then yell at them for taking so long when they’re stuck with delays in dispatch, clueless, ignorant people on the road, and the inability to grab a meal for the last 10 hours because either their bank account is empty, or they’ve been going non-stop since their shift started. Any EMT who says they do it for the money is either an idiot, or a liar — they do it to help people.
One thing of note — a few of the EMTs on your Lakewood trucks, though, also work as paramedics at other agencies. They do have a higher training in that regard, but they cannot use it, because when they’re on that Lakewood truck, they’re operating under a BLS license. That, you can most likely thank the state of NJ for (and the NJSFAC), as they have rules in place that require a certificate of need, which pretty much creates a monopoly environment. MONOC has a monopoly over Monmouth and Ocean counties as a whole, and also operates in Union, for example.
You take a good thing, like people willing to help others in medical emergencies, and throw in politics and legalities, and suddenly everything goes wild.